The history of humanity is essentially a long string of ups and downs, rights and wrongs, Golden Ages and Great Depressions. While it may seem to the average person like humanity has made great strides, many historians believe that within the last 3,400 years, humans have only been at peace for 268 of them. The time left over, which is 3,132 years, are times of war, including World War I and II, the American Revolution, Hundred Years War, even the Fall of the Roman Empire; this time also includes many sins, wrongdoings, and accusations of the innocent. The concept of sin has been the inspiration for many works of literature. One great writer who took inspiration from those scenarios is Arthur Miller.
In the spring of 1692, in a small village know at the time as Salem, tension was brewing between the local townspeople of Salem and the young women accused of witchcraft. Not many knew this yet but the trials to come over the next few months would have an enormous impact on the history of Massachusetts and America as well. Salem was a decent sized village with about 500 residents residing within the city lines. So for the most part everybody knew everybody, and one of the most popular figures in salem was the town minister, Reverend Samuel Parris. Parris was a father and a uncle to two young girls named Betty Parris and Abigail Williams both around the age of 9.
The Salem witch trial hysteria of 1692 may have been instigated by religious, social, geographic and even biological factors. During these trials, 134 people were condemned as witches and 19 were hanged. These statistics also include 5 more deaths that occurred prior to their execution date. It is interesting to look into the causes of this stain on American History, when as shown in document B, eight citizens were hanged in only one day.
In 1478 the Spanish Inquisition had begun, and the first year the atrocity they committed not only matches the witch hunt in salem, but far overshadows it. Given time however, the Inquisition slows, yet in Salem blood always flows. In the beginning years of the inquisition many were tortured, interrogated, and countless executions took place (“Spanish Inquisition” Groiler Online). Yet even after committing this horrid string of offenses they realised their inhumanity and took a step back, becoming much more reasonable and docile for the remainder of the inquisition. The courts of Salem however never stopped executing their accused and made no efforts to allow the accused to defend themselves in court.
Pandemonium can dictate a country’s or settlement’s future when not taken under control. The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, perfectly illustrates the downsides of pandemonium, but also a real life event. In 1950s America, the Communist Party was sparking outrage and chaos that soon the United States would face a fascist government. Both situations lead to tension in society and people turning their backs against each other. In “Are You Now or Were You Ever?”, also written by Arthur Miller, the online article discusses the reasons to why Miller wrote the book such as the similarities to the Communist Party in America to the Salem Witch Trials, play scripts, actors, and the paranoia in society.
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. In Salem witchcraft became a very big deal. Twenty people died while over two hundred people were accused and it all happened because of one person. Many people are to blame for the witch trials and deaths of the accused, but Abigail is the most to blame. Before the play started Abigail had an affair with John Proctor and Elizabeth fired her from being their maid.
Imagine living in Puritan New England, near the end of the seventeenth century, specifically a small village by the name of Salem. While life in Salem is usually peaceful, in the year 1692, a series of events, summarize to be the Salem Witch Trials, would become famous for the death and destruction they caused. The playwright, Arthur Miller, investigates motive and blame connected these trials in his play The Crucible. Miller uses dialogue and plot to show that it was mainly hysteria caused by self-preservation that is to blame for the event in the play. One of the most prominent examples of this is the girls who accused others of witchcraft in the court, specifically Abigail.
The West Memphis Three vs. The Salem Witch Trials Society makes people feel pressured to make assumptions for their own benefits. There have been many examples of this throughout history. Society has been pressuring people to change and make assumptions, dating back to the stone ages all the way until the present. Why does society pressure people to make assumptions?
It is evident that the Salem witchcraft accusations were facilitated by numerous factors, and there were key figures who were accountable for causing the most damage. What caused and led the false trials into fruition was the naivety of the Salem theocracy and the influence by an allegedly infallible group. Thus, the Putnams and Abigail were the principal leaders of the group who accused, Reverend Gale spurred the initial craze on religious pretext, and the baseless and easily swayed judges, in particular Dansforth, allowed the claims to be turned into hangings. Foremost, among those responsible for the witch trials are the accusers made up of the town girls as well as the Putnams, who occasionally exercised their hidden agenda.
Ultimately, I believe that the Salem Witch Trials’ main cause was mass hysteria and paranoia among the group. I can predict this, because in Exhibit A, Cotton Mather states, “ I will prove that Witchcraft exists. Those who deny it exists argue that they never saw any witches, therefore there are none.” I believe this is strong evidence supporting the over exaggeration of most people towards the trials and how hysterical people can become towards an unrealistic assumption like witches and witchcraft. Another piece of evidence supporting mass hysteria as the cause of the trials would be in Exhibit B, where Abigail Hobbs a 16 year old girls pleads guilty.